On June 1, 2003, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, began his first official visit to the Russian Orthodox Church at the invitation of His Holiness, Patriarch Aleksy II of Moscow and All Russia.
“While it has been widely reported that Patriarch Aleksy has experienced numerous health issues in recent months, his condition is not serious enough to preclude the one-week visit, the first since Metropolitan Herman’s election as Primate in July 2002,” according to the Very Rev. John Matusiak, OCA Communications Director. “Metropolitan Herman is anxious to visit with the Patriarch personally and assure him of ongoing prayers for the full restoration of his health.”
Upon his arrival in Moscow, Metropolitan Herman, accompanied by Protopresbyter Robert Kondratick, was greeted by His Eminence, Metropolitan Kyrill of Smolensk and Kalingrad, Chairman of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, at Moscow’s Sheremetevo Airport.
On June 3, Metropolitan Herman will visit the renown Monastery of the Holy Trinity and Saint Sergius of Radonezh in Sergiev Posad, the Russian Orthodox Church’s major monastery a brief drive from Moscow, where he will pray before the relics of Saint Sergius and Saint Innocent Veniaminov, the 19th century Metropolitan of Moscow who spent many years as a missionary priest and later bishop in Alaska. He will also deliver an address to the faculty and students of the Moscow Theological Academy and Seminary, located on the monastery grounds, in which he will reflect on the close relationship between the Churches in Russia and America and highlight the significance of the forthcoming return of the wonderworking Tikhvin Icon of the Mother of God to the Tikhvin monastery near Novgorod in 2004.
The Church of the Great Martyr Catherine in Moscow will be the site of the hierarchical Divine Liturgy on June 4, the Feast of the Leavetaking of Holy Pascha, which Metropolitan Herman will celebrate with Archimandrite Zacchaeus, OCA Representative to the Moscow Patriarchate, and a number of visiting hierarchs and other clergy. The church, which has served as the OCA’s Representation Church for a decade, continues to undergo extensive renovations and improvements necessitated by years of neglect and use for secular purposes during the communist era. Under Father Zacchaeus, who also serves as Dean of Saint Catherine’s, the program of improvements initiated by the Very Rev. Daniel Hubiak, the OCA’s first representative in Moscow, are continuing at an impressive pace.
Later the same evening, Metropolitan Herman will concelebrate the All-Night Vigil for the Great Feast of the Ascension at the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Theophany, popularly known as “Yelokhovsky cathedral” in reference to the former village in which it is located.
On the Great Feast of the Ascension, June 5, Metropolitan Herman will celebrate the Divine Liturgy in the recently-rebuilt Cathedral of Christ the Savior. Originally built in the late 1800s, the massive cathedral, Russia’s largest, was demolished in the 1930s by order of Joseph Stalin, who intended but failed to erect a massive “Palace of the Soviets” in its place. Patriarch Aleksy initiated reconstruction of the cathedral in the mid-1990s, culminating in the church’s consecration in August 2000. On the evening of the Feast, Metropolitan Herman will meet privately with Patriarch Aleksy at his residence.
On June 6, prior to his departure for the United States, Metropolitan Herman will meet with the US Ambassador to the Russian Federation, Alexander Vershbow, to discuss matters of mutual concern.
Photos of Metropolitan Herman’s visit will be posted on the OCA web site at http://www.oca.org and will appear in the July-August issue of “The Orthodox Church” newspaper.